Nikon Small World winner announced

The winner of the Nikon Small World competition has been announced, and it’s a stunning picture of a diatom, by the talented Dutch microphotographer Wim van Egmond (click on the camera above to see it). Congratulations, Wim!

See the competition gallery to look at the full collection of pictures, or check out the coverage in Wired.

Information is Beautiful 2013 Shortlist

The shortlist for the 2013 Information is Beautiful Awards has been released. In the Data Visualization category, I voted for “The Atlas of Kant’s Legacy” (below) by Valerio Pellegrini, a beautiful study of how Kant’s philosophical vocabulary changed over time. This is work that Valerio conducted for his M.Sc. thesis.

Why not take a look and vote yourself, in this and the other four categories (Infographic, Interactive, Motion Infographic, and Tool)?

Happy Birthday, Arecibo!

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico was completed 50 years ago next month, in November 1963. It was an engineering milestone, and remains the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope, with a diameter of 305 m (1000 feet).

IEEE/ASME plaque at Arecibo (photo: Chris Amelung)

The Arecibo team have been celebrating all year (with a special anniversary symposium currently live on UMETIPTV). And justifiably so: it’s been 50 years of good work. Well done, team! Now, if only we could get you the world’s largest cake…

Update: The symposium is over, but Wired has a great article on the observatory.

Telescope: a short film

Telescope ( is a fantastic short film directed by Collin Davis and Matt Litwiller, written by Eric Bodge, and shot by Travis Labella, with production design by Molly Burgess. In the year 2183, when all life on Earth has ceased, an archaeologist takes a telescope aboard a faster-than-light spaceship to see the living planet that once existed.

Take 10 minutes to watch this wonderful short film on Vimeo below!

See Telescope on Vimeo.

There’s gold in them thar trees!

A recent paper in Nature by four Australian authors confirms that Eucalyptus trees growing over gold deposits will accumulate small quantities of gold in their leaves. Not only that, the authors show that Eucalyptus seedlings actually absorb gold from the soil – it’s not just gold-laden dust blowing onto the leaves.

This makes biogeochemical prospecting for gold a possibility – gold-bearing leaves may tell miners where to dig. Biogeochemical prospecting is not a new idea, but the work of these four scientists may initiate a resurgence of the technique.

For more about this discovery, see this Science news story, or the Nature paper itself.

A Eucalyptus marginata tree. Does it mark a goldfield below? (photo by “SatuSuro”)